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Paper short abstract:
This paper examines local representations of China and Chineseness in Chile in audiovisual material between 2000-2019. Using an ontological approach, we show how stereotypes of the Chinese as eternal foreigners persist alongside radical efforts to imagine a post-racial Chile and "remix" culture.
Paper long abstract:
China has for a long time been a prominent "Other" in the Occidental imaginary, as is evident in representations of the Chinese and Chineseness in literature, film, and television. Within the context of the increasing multidimensional participation and involvement of China in the global South generally and in Latin America in particular, this paper seeks to explore the shifting local representations of China and Chineseness in Chile in the 21st century. Specifically, we examine audiovisual portrayals of Chinese persons, China, and Chineseness between 2000 to 2019, including television documentaries, soap operas, cinema, theatre plays, music videos, and advertisements. Our analysis draws on an ontological approach to Chineseness, critical race studies, and debates on multiculturalism, and is additionally informed by ethnographic research on Chinese migrants and inter-ethnic relations in Santiago. We show that stereotypical, essentialist portrayals of the Chinese as incomprehensible and unassimilable foreigners endure in remarkably consistent ways throughout the 20th and 21st century. Despite more efforts since 2010 to include Chinese persons as part of a modern and multicultural Chile, such depictions still reproduce the fundamental incommensurability of "Chinese" and "Chilean" cultures, by rendering such bi-cultural persons "less" Chinese. Nevertheless, a few radical efforts seek to imagine a post-multicultural, post-racial Chile in some productions that "remix" culture. We thus engage in timely questions about how the changing global position of China not only shapes the experiences of overseas Chinese persons and/or perceptions towards China, but also challenges ethno-national identities in the global South.
The Local Perception: New Anthropological Horizons of the Chinese Presence in the Global South